Judge Stops Pennsylvania Votor ID Law



I read the story in Yahoo News.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s divisive voter identification requirement became the latest of its kind to get pushback from the courts ahead of Election Day, delivering a hard-fought victory to Democrats who said it was a ploy to defeat President Barack Obama and other opponents who said it would prevent the elderly and minorities from voting.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said in his ruling that he was concerned by the state’s stumbling efforts to create a photo ID that is easily accessible to voters and that he could not rely on the assurances of government officials at this late date that every voter would be able to get a valid ID.

If it stands, it is good news for Obama’s chances in Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s biggest electoral college prizes, unless Republicans and the tea party groups that backed the law find a way to use it to motivate their supporters and possibly independents.

Simpson based his decision on guidelines given to him two weeks ago by the state’s high court to determine whether the state had made photo IDs easily accessible to voters who needed them. It could easily be the final word on the law just five weeks before the Nov. 6 election, especially since Gov. Tom Corbett, who had championed the law, said he was leaning against appealing to the state Supreme Court.

“This decision is a big win for voters in Pennsylvania,” said Witold J. Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which helped challenge the law.

Well, maybe the dead voters.

Simpson’s ruling would not stop the law from going into full effect next year, though he could still decide later to issue a permanent injunction as part of the ongoing legal challenge to the law’s constitutionality.

The 6-month-old law — among the nation’s toughest — is one of many that has passed a Republican-controlled state Legislature since the last presidential election, and has sparked a divisive debate over voting rights ahead of the contest between Obama, a Democrat, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, for Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.

It was already a political lightning rod when a top state Republican lawmaker boasted to a GOP dinner in June that the ID requirement “is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

The law is one of about 20 tougher voter identification laws passed predominantly by Republican-controlled state Legislatures since the last presidential election. However, several states’ laws are not strict in their requirement for a photo ID, several others were vetoed by Democratic governors and still others — such as in Texas and Wisconsin — were held up by courts.

I think we need to be honest here. The purpose of voter ID laws is indeed to suppress voter turnout, among those who have no actual right to vote or those who wish to vote more than once, or those who are not too scrupulous about an honest count of the votes.

But I also have to say that if a person does not have any photo identification, than that is a person who is not legally employed, does not have a bank account, cannot legally drive a motor vehicle, cannot board an airplane, and cannot buy alcohol or tobacco. Such a person can only exist on the margins of our society and economy. It may sound harsh, but I have to wonder if such a person should be voting at all. It has become a seldom questioned truism that voting should be made as convenient as possible for as many people as possible. Therefore we have made voting and registering for voting easy with such devices as registering at license branches, same day registration and allowing voting by mail and even over the Internet.

I don’t agree with this approach. Aside from the fact that such devices make voter fraud ridiculously easy, I think voting should be made moderately difficult in order to weed out the unmotivated and ill-informed. If you cannot get up and see that you are registered to vote well in advance of election day and cannot get to a polling place, you have no business voting. I realize that there are some disabled people who may not be able to leave their homes, etc, and I think every provision should be made for such people, and there are reasons why people may need to vote absentee. I think that voting is a serious business, in that the act of voting is the only say most people have in the affairs of the country and it would be best if the unserious stayed out.

Ideally, I would like for there to be some sort of civics test which voters would need to pass. It need not be difficult. No memorizing the Constitution or anything like that. Just enough to stop people like this.


I think we can agree that if you don’t know who is actually running, you probably shouldn’t vote.



What Were They Thinking?


I often see items in the news that make me wonder, not so much what were they thinking as were they thinking? I ran across two such items today.

First, someone in Idaho put up this billboard.

Here is the story, does billboard comparing Obama to alleged shooter go too far, courtesy of kboi2.com.

A Caldwell billboard is raising questions in the Treasure Valley as it compares President Obama to accused Colorado killer, James Holmes.

The billboard on Franklin Road equates the actions of the president’s foreign policies to the acts of Holmes, who’s suspected of killing 12 people in the theater shooting.

The group that owns the board, The Ralph Smeed Foundation, says it wants to draw attention to military men and women dying overseas.

“(It’s) way over the line, and I am not an Obama supporter,” Lynn Davis Hathaway, said on the KBOI 2News Facebook page.

A spokesman for the group says everyone has the right to their own opinion.
Ashley Helton, who also wrote on Facebook, agrees with the group.

“It’s a free country, this group has a right to voice their opinion no matter what anyone thinks about it,” Helton said.

President Obama recently visited the Pacific Northwest – making stops in Portland and Seattle.

Do they even have to ask? Of course it goes too far. I am no fan of President Obama, but this is simply outrageous. It is also stupid since whatever point these people want to make will be overshadowed by the controversy about the billboard.

Then there was a fake kidnapping performed by a church in Pennsylvania. Why would a church stage a kidnapping of a youth group? It was to prepare them for the dangers that come with being missionaries. There story is at foxnews.com.

 A southeastern Pennsylvania church and a youth pastor are facing criminal charges for a mock kidnapping of a youth group that was meant to be a lesson in religious persecution.

The Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Middletown and 28-year-old Andrew David Jordan of Elizabethtown were charged Friday with false imprisonment and simple assault, said Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico.

The church staged the event in March. Mock kidnappers covered the teenagers’ heads, put them in a van and interrogated them. Neither the young people nor their parents were told beforehand that it wasn’t real. The mother of a 14-year-old girl filed a complaint with police.

“This is a sad case for all those involved,” Marsico said, adding that while the church’s and Jordan’s intentions were not necessarily harmful, “they in essence terrorized several children.”

“We need to protect children, no matter where the harm occurs,” Marsico said, adding that a grand jury recommended the charges. He noted that some of the teenagers in the group were not members of the church, and that a semi-automatic rifle was displayed in the exercise.

A message left at the church was not immediately returned, and there was no phone listing for Jordan. Neither were defense attorneys listed on court papers.

Glad Tidings pastor John Lanza said in March that the church was “so saddened” that youth were traumatized during the event, but added that other youth from the church sent emails of support. The church is about 10 miles outside Harrisburg. Lanza said the goal of the exercise was to prepare the youth for what they might encounter as missionaries in foreign countries. He didn’t disclose the names of those involved but said the mock kidnappers included an off-duty police officer and a retired Army captain.

“It was a youth event, to illustrate what others have encountered on a regular basis,” he said, adding that the focus of the lesson was “the persecuted church” in other countries.

Lanza said the church had conducted similar events at least twice before, without complaints.

I can understand wanting to teach the youth group about the persecution that Christians face in other countries and can certainly understand organizing a sort of role-playing/training exercise to help them understand it better, but maybe they should have prepared the kids. Most people would realize that grabbing people, putting bags over their heads, tossing them into a van and brandishing a semi-automatic rifle might just cause the young people to freak out.

And this wasn’t the first time they did this?



Hitler and Mussolini Would Love Our Public Schools

That is the opinion of the Catholic Bishop of Harrisburg Pennsylvania. I read this in CNS news.

 The Catholic bishop of Harrisburg, Pa., has apologized for offending anyone with his recent comments that Hitler and Mussolini “would love” the public school system in Pennsylvania, because it is similar to what they sought to create in their totalitarian states.

But in a statement issued by the diocese of Harrisburg, Bishop Joseph McFadden did not retract comments he made during an interview on Jan. 24 with WHTM-TV, the ABC affiliate in Harrisburg.

The bishop made a comparison between the interests of the public school system and totalitarianism, while discussing what he sees as a lack of school choice in Pennsylvania.

“In the totalitarian government, they would love our system,” McFadden said. “This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all them tried to establish — a monolith; so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.”

McFadden’s comments drew immediate criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union – which complained that the bishop had raised the specter of the Holocaust.

“We respect the Bishop and his position in the Church.  We appreciate his commitment the education of children and the viability of Catholic schools.  However, he should not be making his point at the expense of the memory of six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust,” Barry Morrison, Eastern Pennsylvania/Southern New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

I think his comparison is uncalled for and unfair. I am positive that the schools in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were able to teach almost all of their students to read.

Actually, I see the bishop’s point, as he explained in his apology.

In a statement on the Diocese of Harrisburg Web site, the bishop issued an apology to anyone who was offended by his remarks, but went on to explain and justify his references to Hitler and Mussolini:

“To those who may have been offended by my remarks, I apologize to them assuring them that I purposely did not mention the holocaust,” the bishop said.

“The reference to dictators and totalitarian governments of the 20th century which I made in an interview on the topic of school choice was to make a dramatic illustration of how these unchecked monolithic governments of the past used schools to curtail the primary responsibility of the parent in the education of their children,” he said.

“Today many parents in our state experience the same lack of freedom in choosing an education that bests suits their child as those parents oppressed by dictators of the past. I intentionally did not make reference to the holocaust in my remarks,”

He’s right. I think that in the long run there is going to have to be some sort of school choice allowed in our public school system. The educational establishment is fighting any reform tooth and nail, but the failures of the system have become so obvious that I do not imagine they will be able to hold off reform for long.




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